Candles with leaded wicks are still sold for consumer use despite a government’s warning that such candles are an “imminent hazard to public health.”
The waste and pollution watch group EcoWaste Coalition made this revelation after buying last Saturday candles worth P120 to P240 per box of two candles from a store selling Chinese prayer articles along Ongpin St., in Binondo, the world’s oldest Chinatown.
Using a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analytical device, lead in the range of 1,257 to 2,797 parts per million (ppm) was detected on the lead wire that is used to keep the cotton wick upright as the paraffin wax melts.
“We are worried by the continued sale of these imported toxic candles that can affect air quality and cause lead poisoning hazard, especially to young children,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.
“To prevent lead air pollution, we ask the manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers of such candles to cease and desist from marketing candles with leaded wicks. Consumers should not light such candles that can result in serious health problems,” he said.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in December 2016 issued a public health advisory regarding “the purchase and use of all candles with wicks containing lead, candles in metal containers that contain lead, and wicks sold for candle-making that contain lead,” stressing that such products pose “an imminent hazard to public health.”
The said advisory was prompted by the EcoWaste Coalition's investigative research that found candles with lead-cored wicks on sale in Binondo. Tests commissioned by the group detected lead up to 200,735 ppm on the wicks of 20 candles it submitted to a private laboratory for analysis.
“As a lead-cored wick candle burns, some of the lead may vaporize and be released into the air. This airborne lead may be inhaled and may deposit onto floors, furniture and other surfaces in the room where children may be exposed to it,” the FDA advisory said.
The FDA warned that exposure to lead emissions “can result in increased blood lead levels in unborn babies, babies and young children,” adding that “other toxic effects includes neurological damage, delayed mental and physical development, and attention and learning deficiencies.”
As the blatant sale of leaded candles continues, the EcoWaste Coalition appealed to the FDA to issue another advisory imposing outright ban on the manufacture, importation, distribution and sale of such candles.
The group emphasized that the governments of Australia, Finland, Denmark and USA had already banned candles with lead-cored wicks in 1999, 2001, 2002 and 2003, respectively.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)in 2003 banned lead-cored wicks and candles with lead-cored wicks after determining that candles using lead-cored wicks could present a lead poisoning hazard to young children.
“It’s high time for the Philippines to follow suit and take action banning such toxic candles to prevent lead air pollution and protect children’s health,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.
Undas Tips on Safe Use of Candles:
1. Pay attention to the manufacturer’s candle use and safety instructions.
2. Shun candles with lead-cored wicks and go for candles with cotton and other non-metal wicks.
3. Trim the wicks as a long and curved wicks can cause irregular burning and dripping.
4. Use sturdy candle holders that will not turn over, catch fire or break when they get too hot.
5. Place the candle holder on a stable, heat resistant and uncluttered surface.
6. Light candles in a well-ventilated space to lessen indoor air pollution.
7. Keep burning candles out of the reach of children and pets.
8. Do not leave a lighted candle unattended.
9. Keep the wax pool free of wick trimmings, matches and debris at all times.
10. Keep burning candles away from anything that can catch fire.